Theatre in Houston: 2017 Predictions

As 2017 approaches, both Broadway Across America and Theatre Under the Stars are set to announce their 2017-2018 seasons. Which shows will grace the stage at Sarofim Hall at The Hobby Center? I’ve got some educated guesses to share.

Everything I’m about to write is mostly speculation, although I do have a few concrete facts as well. For those that don’t know, Broadway Across America brings in six to eight shows each season, all national tours. Usually six are part of the season and the rest are “season add-ons” that subscribers may opt to add if they wish. Theatre Under the Stars is a mix of tours and local professional productions, usually Broadway calibre and often featuring both local and New York talent.

Let’s start with what we know for sure.

CONFIRMED NATIONAL TOURS

635881346565320230637380631_a784e09a-dfa4-b999-ef2d0b8d009e4b98Hamilton is certain to be a part of the 2017-2018 Broadway Across America season. They’ve already confirmed it will be coming but no dates have been set. Those who subscribed to this past season will be the first to be able to purchase tickets by renewing for 17/18. Usually subscribers also have first access to additional tickets before they open to the general public, but I would expect ticket limits will be imposed or they may handle this show’s extra tickets in an entirely different way. Either way, they will be in high demand.

Based on the cities announced so far, it is unlikely that Hamilton will arrive in 2017. I’m expecting it to play The Hobby Center in early to mid-2018.

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Aladdin has also confirmed a tour starting mid-April in Chicago. I’m relatively certain this show will be a part of the 2017/2018 season in Houston, but the bigger question is – with which company?

Theatre Under the Stars was the home to the World Premiere of “Beauty and the Beast” and also helped re-shape “The Little Mermaid” after its Broadway run and prior to its National Tour. So if someone asked me to set the odds, I’d place my money on Aladdin being a part of their season. Regardless of presenter, I think it’s very likely we will see Jafar & company on Sarofim Hall stage next season.

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Launching its tour in Cleveland for the 2017-2018 season, Sara Bareilles’ musical Waitress will likely find time to visit Houston next year.

The tour is supposedly a “go” and while Ohio has been confirmed as its first stop, no official dates or other cities have been released. This is another show that could be presented by either company. The show’s director, Diane Paulus, was last represented on The Hobby Center stage by the wonderful new production of “Pippin” which played here during this current season.

colorpurpleThe new revival of The Color Purple has also announced plans for a national tour, although specific dates and cities have not yet been revealed.

When the first Broadway incarnation toured several years ago, Houston was one of the first stops and the show was presented locally by Theatre Under the Stars. Will they present the revised version or will they pass this time? Only time will tell, but I’d give them the edge on this show and I wouldn’t bet against it being a part of one company’s 2017/2018 season.

220px-school_of_rock_musicalAndrew Lloyd-Webber’s latest effort, School of Rock The Musical, has announced plans to crisscross the United States but like the last two shows featured, they have not divulged a starting city or dates.

This is another show that could fall under either producer’s umbrella, but I give the edge here again to Theatre Under the Stars for no real scientific or factual reasons, but because they have a history with shows with children. Productions of “Billy Elliot” and “Matilda,” among others, have been a part of their past seasons and so in that regard, this show would fit nicely. I’d say it’s a 60/40 that they are the host.

latestSir Andrew could be represented in Houston by two shows next season, if the tour of Love Never Dies actually comes to fruition.

This show, a sequel to Webber’s megahit “The Phantom of the Opera,” has been plagued with problems, never made it to Broadway and has been revamped several times. So it’s a coin toss chance as to whether this show will arrive in Houston next season or tour at all. I really can’t see Theatre Under the Stars taking a chance on this show, so if it does make it to Texas, I’d expect it to be part of the Broadway Across America season.

13908_show_portrait_largeThe current Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof has just announced plans for a tour beginning in 2018.

Although the limited information they released suggests that the tour will actually be a part of the 2018-2019 season, it is possible that the show could sneak into some cities at the end of their 2017-2018 schedules.

This show has been to Houston many, many times and presented by both companies, so this one is a crap shoot. Place your bets.

RUMORED NATIONAL TOURS

It’s pretty much a given that any Broadway show will “announce” a national tour. It’s almost standard to include plans to tour in any closing announcement when a show ends its Broadway run, but often these are just pipe dreams and an actual tour rarely comes to fruition. So take the following “rumored tours” with a a grain of salt — while I’d love to see many of them come this way, I’m not holding my breath.

16314_show_portrait_largeHaving just seen this show streamed in theaters, I would love for Allegiance to be a part of either company’s 2017-2018 season. George Takei’s passion project about Japanese Internment Camps during World War II deserves a tour but is such a tough show to market it might not get it.

Still, someone forked up the money to film the show and present it in theaters. Word is a DVD is in the works. So perhaps they will also see fit to fund a national tour. Either way, if this show replays in theaters, make sure you find time to attend a screening.

My odds for seeing this show in Houston: 10%

08907_show_portrait_largePerennial favorite Les Miserables has been announced as part of the Broadway in Chicago season, so it’s likely that another national tour is in the works.

As much as I love this show (it’s one of my absolute favorites) I do wish they’d tour the original version again. This is a show so well written that it’s hard to screw it up, but the original Broadway staging (now sadly only playing in London’s West End) is iconic and perfect.

My odds for seeing this show in Houston: 80%. Odds of the original version coming: 0%

BS-0007C-DC-WindowCard-14x22-FIN2.inddWith Steve Martin and Edie Brickell as composers and backers, you’d think Bright Star would have a fighting chance for a tour.

With a setting in the south and a lovely score, this would seem to be a perfect choice for either a tour or local production. As with many shows, when it closed back in June on Broadway a tour was announced. But since then, not a peep.

This is another show that I would love to see make its way to The Hobby Center, but I highly doubt that it ever will.

My odds for seeing this show in Houston: 10%

onyourfeetAlthough there’s no official word beyond “we plan to tour,” On Your Feet! makes a lot of sense for the road. Jukebox musicals are usually less-expensive to produce, have songs people know and attract fans of the music featured. Shows like “Mamma Mia!,” “Jersey Boys” and this season’s “The Bodyguard” have proven this formula can work both in New York and on the road.

This show, which is for the most part family friendly, could easily be a production in either company’s season.

My odds for seeing this show in Houston: 60%

14041-20Deaf West’s Spring Awakening was groundbreaking – a production mixing deaf and hearing actors to incredible success. It was a critical and crowd favorite but did not find financial success.

Its lack of profitability are one clear sign of a tour being unlikely, but the fact that they had to use a Kickstarter campaign to fund their appearance on The Tony Awards makes the possibility of hitting the road even more remote.

The original version was part of Broadway Across America several seasons back and I would expect that if it did manage to make it to Houston, they would again be its presenter.

My odds for seeing this show in Houston: 10%

13954-5Another show that intended to tour but might not is Shuffle Along. Plagued with problems on Broadway (including choosing to close early after losing 6-time Tony-winning star Audra McDonald to pregnancy in the beginning of the run), the show would probably love to be able to make some money back on the road, but this is another show/story that is hard to market and not a household name.

Even recognizable properties have trouble turning a profit (I’m looking at you, “Ghost the Musical”) and I would expect this show would have trouble finding an audience on the road.

My odds for seeing this show in Houston: 5%

WHAT ELSE IS OUT THERE?

There are a few other shows that are currently touring. Why haven’t they come here yet?

20183_show_portrait_largeHow do you measure 20 years in the life? With a 20th Anniversary tour of Rent, the groundbreaking Pulitzer Prize winning musical. This tour has played other Texas cities, so why not Houston?

I can only speculate but there would appear to be three possible reasons. First, the tour IS coming here but just hasn’t announced a date yet (which would likely make it a part of the next season for one of the production companies). Second, it could be that a local production is planned so the tour is skipping Houston. Honestly though, I find this to be the least likely of the three scenarios. Most likely is that neither presenter was interested in having it in Houston and simply passed.

My odds for seeing this show in Houston: 20%

hedwigtourThis show is a quagmire. Having seen Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway, I can see why the tour has chosen its initial cities carefully. This show makes “The Book of Mormon” seem like Sesame Street – and that’s saying something.

While I enjoyed the show personally, I can see where some subscribers might find this show offensive and that would ultimately cause problems down the road for the presenter. Until this year, I would have ruled out completely any chance of Theatre Under the Stars bringing the show to town, but with their new artistic director and direction, anything is possible. Still, if this show does make to to town, I expect it would be part of  Broadway Across America and might even be an optional add-on.

My odds for seeing this show in Houston: 30%

LOCAL PRODUCTIONS & OTHER POSSIBILITIES

So typically Theatre Under the Stars has a six show season, of which usually half are tours and the other half local productions. With their recent shift in strategy, all bets are off as to what they may or may not choose to present. This year has been a pleasantly refreshing mix of old, new, safe and daring. I truly hope they keep that up.

I have no idea what they are planning for local productions, but I can report that their seasons are often announced in late January. So it won’t be long if they hold to their usual schedule.

As for Broadway Across America, they have already announced that the 2017-2018 season will be revealed in early January (the 9th is what I’m hearing). If they follow the pattern of past releases, subscribers will get a heads-up a few days prior to the official announcement.

As soon as I know more, it will be posted here. Have any inside info? I’d love to hear it. Message me privately or comment away!

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